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  1. Politics
9 June 2015updated 26 Jul 2021 5:33am

Zac Goldsmith MP is running to be the Tory candidate for London Mayor – what chance does he have?

The Tory MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, announces his intention to run for the mayoralty.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Another day, another Tory everyone assumed would run for London Mayor has announced they’ll be running for London Mayor. Earlier this week it was Sol Campbell, and now it’s Zac Goldsmith, Tory MP for Richmond Park.

Conservative hearts will be singing at this news, as Goldsmith – outspoken and often rebellious in the Commons – is a more compelling choice than the other potential Tory candidates. 

Sol Campbell ticks the name-recognition box, but he has a slim chance of making it to political office. Ivan Massow is not a classic Conservative, but is thought to offer little beyond “I’m a political outsider, and I’m gay”, according to certain jaded Westminster Tory sources I’ve heard from. And the other two who have declared – City Hall politicians Andrew Boff and Stephen Greenhalgh – aren’t yet offering anything truly distinctive.

Goldsmith is an ardent environmentalist who has spoken out against his own party on Heathrow expansion (he strongly opposes it, and threatened to resign over the issue). The Tory MP has also attacked the Prime Minister’s “deception” over genetically modified crops, accusing him of capitulating to big business.

Another example of how independent-minded Goldsmith has been is his pet project during the last parliament: allowing the public a stronger role in ousting errant MPs from office via recall. He condemned the government for “duping” voters via a watered-down recall bill, accusing David Cameron of behaving “appallingly” on the subject. The bill was eventually defeated.

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Although Goldsmith is known in the Westminster world as a free-thinker and a critic of the Tory government, it is unlikely London voters will know this much about the MP, and may not see past his archetypal “posh” demeanour. But Boris Johnson also went to Eton, and London chose him twice, so Labour should be wary of Goldsmith as a rival to the post.

His task will be to hammer away at his green record in the hope that he will pick up second preferences from non-tribal, progressive London voters (small g greens, for instance), and first preferences from those who remain unsure about voting Labour but would be apprehensive about opting for a typical Tory. There are plenty of these fluid kind of voters in London, though the city remains Labour-leaning on the whole.

But first, Goldsmith is organising a postal vote to allow his constituents to decide whether or not he should run for the position.

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